WTC Carries Out Inaugural Self-Defence Training for Youth Leadership Development Programme

Almost 600 young South Africans successfully completed Youth Leadership Development Programme (YLDP) training at Thaba Nchu NARYSEC College run by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) for the final phase held in Saldanha. The Warrior Training Centre (WTC) carried out the inaugural self-defence training for young future leaders, also covering the fundamentals of the warrior ethos, enabling a warrior mindset as a life tool to overcome challenges that they may face later in life.

Guest of Honour: Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha MP
Guest of Honour: Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha MP, Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform alongside Officer Commanding, Captain S. Msikhinya. Photo: Helen Galanakis

This self-defence training formed part of a wider leadership programme, with the overall aim of empowering them via discipline, entrepreneurial skills as well as social development and upliftment skills. These are integral to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s youth leadership development programme, which is a 24-month skills development programme within the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform targeting unemployed rural youth aged between 18 – 25 in possession of Grade 12 (Standard 10). This forms part of the rural economy transformation strategy aimed at poor rural wards. Overall and in conjunction with the SANDF, the programme aims to build character by focussing on leadership, discipline, teamwork, volunteerism and patriotism.

The work has just begun

It was emphasised to the graduates that there is a need to for continual development, in order to give back and uplift people in need, serving fellow citizens with respect and professionalism, so as to build a better South Africa. To this end, a pledge was undertaken by all on parade, promising to contribute in being an active citizen by starting with their communities. Although the three months of intense training may have come to an end, the work for these young leaders has only started. The graduates will spend 12 months developing their skills, ensuring they are prepared for the job market. The net result of the programme being a decline in youth unemployment in rural areas. The full YLDP programme can be seen below:

Numerous prizes were presented to worthy recipients, amongst the categories were:

• Most Improved,
• Most Disciplined
• Perseverance Award
• Fittest Male and Female
• Top Academic Achiever

Prize Giving. Photo: Helen Galanakis

Being a warrior in every day life

The first phase of training involved the entire c. 600 YLDP members in self-defence, the world's largest Krav Maga training session, with the assistance of the WTC's international affiliated training centre, the UK’s Krav Maga Combat Academy. For the second phase of the training, a selection process by way of fun competitions testing perseverance and commitment was held, to determine suitable candidates for the display team. Of the almost 600 group, 30 were selected. The training was demanding as it required hours of effort and perseverance, with natural attrition resulting in the official Martial Arts Display team consisting of eight dedicated and deserving “warriors”.

YLDP Martial Arts Display Team, Flanked by Cdr Ipuseng Mathope and the WTC’s Claudio Chiste
Photo: Helen Galanakis

The display kicked off with the forgotten Zulu war cry once performed by the Springboks being performed with passion. The battle cry had the desired effect as participants were in the zone and ready to perform the martial arts which followed. The war cry and the display were notably well received as evidenced by the rousing reception from those in attendance. Once the participants were in “warrior mode”, the martial arts display got underway with the Krav Maga techniques learnt over the training period been demonstrated for all to see. Krav Maga is a military self-defence and fighting system developed for the Israeli Defence Force which is fast becoming the official system of choice for militaries and law enforcement agencies around the world. With the simple and easy to learn self-defence techniques, it is easy to see why Krav Maga has become the self-defence system of choice.

WTC’s Claudio Chiste said, “Much of the self-defence and mental strength techniques are to serve these graduates not only to get through this process, but to also serve them in the everyday life later in life well beyond this graduation day”.

In addition to self-defence, the team were taught about the “Warrior Ethos” and that to overcome adversity one needs to have “fighting spirit”, therefore the self defence also served as a metaphor for the ability to overcome: A valuable lesson for these youth who are only at the start of their adult life.

Quote from Sheroleigh Wilschut, “I think I have really learned valuable life skills which I can use for the rest of my life… feeling empowered. I feel if anyone were to attack me, I could now safely and confidently defence myself”

The next phase after the graduation, these young graduates will be deployed to working environments, in either the public or private sector, to further sharpen their “employability skills”. Some will find themselves interned to the sponsor department.

YLDP Martial Arts Display team with their completion certificates.
Photo: Helen Galanakis

This was the eighth YLDP intake which has had more than 4 600 young people attend its courses, the majority of which are staged at SANDF bases where qualified instructors supervise all training. Medicals are conducted before training starts by SA Military Health Services to ensure students are fit for the physical rigours of the course.

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